Updated: Jul 15, 2021
We have all heard of Panadol and Tylenol, but what about Kaolin? 🤒 Millions of Africans take it for stomach aches. Numerous examples of African herbalism can be found every day around us. Some of these remedies date back to a time before the pyramids of Giza.
Ebers Papyrus (named after the German Egyptologist who purchased it in Luxor during the 19th Century) is one of the oldest medical and herbal texts. Written over 2500 years ago, papyrus in Ancient Egypt had logs of hundreds of formulas and healing practices to fight diseases. For instance, the treatment for Guinea worm used today is the same as defined by the Egyptians, which contained a spiritual element. Our ancestors believed that nothing could be achieved without spirituality. 🧘🏿♀️🧘🏿♀️🧘🏿♀️🧘🏿♀️
Spirituality, besides the plant itself, is the main component of African Herbalism. Without a healthy mind, the body cannot be healthy. 🧠💪🏾
This holds true with current diseases where psychological aspects play an important role in the road to recovery. This dualism leads the healers or herbalists, who received the knowledge through generations, to focus on the mind through different methods. One of the most famous methods is to create a model “puppet” based on the patient and to realize healing actions on that model. The determined actions are then transferred to the patient. 💥 The usage of amulets to fight negative spirits responsible for the diseases is also commonly spread throughout the continent.
In today’s world, herbalism plays a pivotal role in people’s health on the African continent given the lack of/restricted access to sanitation across countries. Access to Western medicine is limited, expensive, and not always developed to the uniqueness of each patient. WHO stated that 80% of the African people are using herbalism as a primary healthcare source.
Research identifies, shares, and consolidates the knowledge from our traditional medicines in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda, to name a few. Independence in the matter of health will pass through the beneficiation of ancestral knowledge coupled with modern techniques. Mixing modern with ancient, western with non-western, is not possible without the protection and the ownership of our mother’s luxuriant greenery.
A few examples of plants🌿Prunus Africana - used the treat benign prostatic hyperplasia;🌿Securidaca longipedunculata - used to treat malaria, tuberculosis;🌿 Lantana Camara - used to treat skin diseases like eczema or chickenpox.
Do you use any plants to heal yourself? What have you seen your older family members use to cure sicknesses? Do you have a secret family medicine? Let us know in the comments what your own health secrets are!